A gift emporium and letterpress print shop at the South Street Seaport Museum
211 Water Street | Wed–Sun | 11am–5pm
Bowne & Co. was established by Robert Bowne in 1775 and is New York’s oldest operating business under the same name. By 1900, New York City boasted over 700 printing offices. Most were located in Lower Manhattan and the South Street Seaport Historic District to facilitate shipping, trade, and finance. Maritime trade industries—growing each year as their goods reached the entire country through the Erie Canal—found themselves in need of a flurry of printed materials for conducting business, causing the demand for stationery, invoices, advertisements, and other printed materials.
In 1975, Bowne & Co. Inc. partnered with the Seaport Museum to open a 19th-century-style print shop at 211 Water Street in the South Street Seaport Historic District. Today, in addition to the letterpress printing collection, Bowne & Co. embodies the spirit of a turn-of-the-century store that is unique, eclectic and like none other in the city.
Entry to visit the Bowne & Co. store and to see some of the Seaport Museum’s letterpress collection is FREE and you do not need museum admission.
Bowne & Co. Online Shop features a special selection of core offerings from Bowne & Co.: journals, writing paper, books, and of course, house-designed notecards and broadside posters. Seaport Museum branded merchandise like totes are also available for purchase.
Orders can be shipped anywhere in the United States via UPS Ground and are also available for local pickup.
Custom 19th-century Letterpress Printing
Bowne & Co. continues the age-old tradition of job (or small batch) printing. Using seven historic presses from South Street Seaport Museum’s working collection; our resident printers create individual designs using custom plates or historic fonts.
Bowne & Co. is a prime example of how the South Street Seaport Museum is dedicated to not just preserving New York’s history, but the skills and expertise it took to run a business like this.
Get in touch with us at the button below or stop by 211 Water Street to learn more.
Printing Workshops use traditional methods and historic presses that once documented marine trade for contemporary artisanal projects. Workshops can range from one to 3.5 hours depending on how in-depth you would like to go. All workshops include printed items that the participants get to take with them at the end of the session.
South Street Seaport Museum
By subway: Take the A, C, 2, 3, J, Z, 4, or 5 train to Fulton Street.
By bus: Take the M-15 SBS or M-15 to Fulton Street.